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Lindsey Kuper

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Gig [Nov. 7th, 2006|08:48 pm]
Lindsey Kuper
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I guess that the one advantage of having your local library be very small is that its smallness makes it easy to simply cruise the shelves, looking for whatever seems interesting. That's how I ended up reading Gig. Conceived as an update on Working, it collects 120 interviews with Americans about their jobs.

A lot of it's pretty sad. The UPS driver discusses what kind of porn they have in the bathroom of each of his delivery stops. The software engineer, a guy from Sarajevo, discusses the relative merits of socialism and capitalism. (He also talks a little about software development: "It is sometimes even pretty easy to write a program, but to make it so the users who will use the program cannot do anything stupid or cause some problems you have to imagine every single thing the user could do on keyboard. That part takes almost all of time. And it is a very boring time.") The major-label A&R guy has suicidal thoughts. Damn.

I think a few of the subjects try to steer around the topic of what they actually do at work. They'd rather talk about college or the union or their hobbies or their family. How many of us are, at bottom, embarrassed about the banality of what we do every day? Because the majority of what we do is by definition banal, right? And when we do enjoy our jobs, maybe we're a little embarrassed that we like them so much. When you talk about your job to people, do you try to make it sound either more or less appealing than it actually is? Or are you unflinchingly honest?

The book was an outgrowth of the now-defunct webzine Word.com, which I had never heard of before. As someone who publishes things on the web, it's kind of chilling to me that Word.com was apparently big and successful enough to publish a book -- a print book, a critically acclaimed print book, in fact -- and they've still vanished into near-nothingness.

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Comments:
[User Picture]From: dan_o_m
2006-11-08 05:49 am (UTC)
Wow, it's sad that the site just died and the domain was bought by someone else.

Yeah, banality of work. Every day I go to work thinking, "I don't really identify with this job." It's a good job: management is very supportive of employees, there is very little bullshit of any kind at work, it has just the right level of challenge (not too easy to be boring, but expectations are reasonable enough that I'm not overwhelmed), pay and benefits are decent if not great. The problem is, I don't feel like this job matches my inner sense of identity.

I think that if some of my freelance creative projects ever take off with enough success to become my full-time job, then I will feel differently.
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[User Picture]From: timthepenguin
2006-11-08 07:11 pm (UTC)
I work at a print shop. I don't plan to work there more than a year or two, but on the whole, I kind of like my job. We do a lot of things for people, and sometimes they think it's pretty awesome what we do. (Though some things that people want are just not doable in the time frame they need.) I consider myself lucky to have a job that doesn't crush my soul.

As for a job I identify with, I'm at least currently on the path to that. It's a few years down the road, but it's at least visible from here.
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[User Picture]From: glowing_fish
2006-11-09 04:44 am (UTC)
I think I was actually thinking about word.com the other week. I forgot that was a name. A friend's girlfriend's brother wrote for them!
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-11-09 05:19 am (UTC)
There *is* one vestige of Word remaining: SiSSYFiGHT 2000 (http://sissyfight.com/). I wasted many a man-hour playing this back in the day.
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From: (Anonymous)
2006-11-09 05:19 am (UTC)
Oops. That comment was from me. - me@matthewgifford.com
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[User Picture]From: leadsynth
2006-11-10 03:07 am (UTC)
Hmm. I'm not embarrassed about it, but I feel like about half of the stuff I do at SA--administrative stuff, proofreading, delegating--is not that interesting to other people. The other half, the creative half (making things sound pretty) is interesting, but can be hard to explain. I still end up talking about work a lot, because I work with some interesting characters.

Mostly I like to comiserate with people about banalities. So really, banal stuff is the stuff that's really worth talking about.
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